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Supersolids produced in exotic state of quantum matter

Superfluid Bose-Einstein condensates created with crystal structure

12:23pm, November 7, 2016
Bose-Einstein condensate

SUPER STRIPES  Stripes of high- and low-density material form in a system called a Bose-Einstein condensate, shown above in a computer simulation. The pattern indicates that the material is a solid, yet it is also a liquid. Such materials are called supersolids, and scientists have now created them in the laboratory.

A mind-bogglingly strange state of matter may have finally made its appearance. Two teams of scientists report the creation of supersolids, which are both liquid and solid at the same time. Supersolids have a crystalline structure like a solid, but can simultaneously flow like a superfluid, a liquid that flows without friction.

Research teams from MIT and ETH Zurich both produced supersolids in an exotic form of matter known as a Bose-Einstein condensate. Reports of the work were published online at on October 26 (by the MIT group) and September 28 (by the Zurich group).

Bose-Einstein condensates are created when a group of atoms, chilled to near absolute zero, huddle up into the same quantum state and begin behaving like a single entity. The scientists’ trick for creating a supersolid was to nudge the condensate, which is already a superfluid, into simultaneously behaving like a solid. To do so, the MIT and Zurich teams created regular density variations

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